DALLAS -- Jason Pierre-Paul's motivation for blocking a last-second field goal was simple enough.
"I knew if I blocked it, we wouldn't have to play overtime," the Giants' 22-year-old defensive end said.
The Giants came from 12 points behind in the final 3:14 to defeat the Cowboys 37-34 on Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium. The Giants and Cowboys are tied at the top of the NFC East with 7-6 records and three games to play.
The fight for first place in the NFC East had been physically taxing. Injuries took a toll on both teams. Pierre-Paul didn't relish absorbing any more hits.
The 6-foot-5 product of South Florida blocked the field goal with the outside of his left hand.
"It felt good," he said.
It must have looked good to the Giants' bench, too, the way they swarmed the field to celebrate. It might have been more than a game-saving play. It could turn out to be a season-saver.
"I didn't expect anything different from him," Giants free safety Antrel Rolle said. "I take my hat off to that guy. He came up big at the end."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin's decision to call timeout to ice Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey couldn't have worked better for Pierre-Paul. He said he changed the angle of his rush because he wasn't having success.
"The first one, the guard blocked me," Pierre-Paul said. "He's a strong cat, you know? He was heavy. I couldn't push him. So the second one I was like, man, I have to push through the center to at least try to get the blocked kick. I gave great effort and blocked the kick. I didn't go through the guard. I stepped left and blocked through the center."
Pierre-Paul said he didn't realize Coughlin had called a timeout to nullify Bailey's first attempt at the 47-yarder.
"When it went through, I thought we were going overtime for sure," he said. "I guess coach called a timeout. He did the best thing for the team. The second field goal, well, you saw what happened last week, too."
The blocked field goal was a perfect capper to a monster effort by Pierre-Paul. He was responsible for five Giants points in the first half. He forced a fumble that led to a field goal and sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo for a safety.
Said Giants offensive lineman Chris Snee of Pierre-Paul: "He's a hell of a player. He has freakish talent. You just don't see guys his size that move that well. It is going to be interesting to see how good he becomes."